I have a hand printed manifesto on my wall listing fifteen ways to live a slower, more creative life. Whilst I’m not going to tell you to play a kazoo or write a letter, slowing down and taking time to rest is a priority in the Bible – in doing so we are able to refresh our souls and draw closer to God.
“Yes, my soul, find rest in god; My hope comes from him.”
So here’s my own list of 10 practical ways to invest in slowing down, daily:
This is a big one in his modern-day culture – try regularly putting your phone down and turning off TVs, laptops and tablets. There’s a whole world out there – and it’s so much better in reality than on Instagram.
If this is a challenge, start small: go completely screen-less on the next bus, train or journey you take.
If your downtime is being disrupted by anxious thoughts, studies have shown that the physical action of writing your worries down and throwing them away can help to clear your head.
If you struggle to switch off, journaling is a good way to process your thoughts. It could be a flow of consciousness, a bullet journal or a short and punchy gratitude journal. Another simple way to process and celebrate your day is by practicing the Ancient Ignatian prayer discipline of The Examen.
Investing in slowness doesn’t necessarily mean sitting and doing nothing; sometimes just a change of scene will also change your pace. Try stepping out and doing something you wouldn’t normally do – and see how it makes an impact.
If you use a diary or calendar, block out time to rest like you would for anything else you’re committed to. Honour it, don’t double book it, and use it to either do nothing, or to do something that gives you rest.
Give 50% more time to the things that you have planned and physically reduce the amount of things you plan into your days. It will stop you over-committing your time, allow you to put in healthy boundaries, and the chances of you being late or having to rush will be greatly reduced.
Not only does sitting at a table to eat improve health and promote community, it also challenges us to stop, move away from screens and be present in the moment.
Practicing mindfulness can help us to become more aware of our thought patterns and feelings; which in turn allows us to notice and deal with things like stress and anxiety before it becomes all-encompassing.
There are lots of ways to practice being mindful. “Being Mindful. Being Christian” is a great insight into the theology, psychology and practice of mindfulness.
Put the brakes on your life by being slow on purpose. Choose the longer queue, the slower train, the scenic route.
Whether extrovert or introvert, getting time alone is necessary for us all. With no outside expectations or noise, alone time helps us with clarity of thought, healthy perspectives, and gives us the space we need to spend time with God, just the two of us.